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Ravens-Steelers Pregame Notes: Will Nate McCrary Get An Opportunity?

Baltimore elevated running back from practice squad.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens undrafted rookie running back Nate McCrary was activated from the practice squad heading into the Week 13 showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

McCrary led the Ravens in rushing during the preseason with 163 yards and one touchdown on 42 carries. However, he didn't make the 53-man roster out of training camp. He was claimed off waivers by the Denver Broncos but re-signed with the Ravens when he was released.

McCrary is active for the game and will get an opportunity ahead of Ty'Son Williams, who has struggled to get on the field. Williams, who was a healthy scratch, had one carry over the past four games. He has just two offensive snaps over the past three weeks.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh alluded to Williams' struggles last month. 

“Every player just has to contribute and perform and produce when they’re out there, and that goes for any player," Harbaugh said. "So, if you’re a running back, you need to run hard, you need to break tackles, you need to get yards, you need to pass protect, you need to run the right route out of the backfield, catch the ball and get up [the] field." 

Fellow running backs Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray will also be available for the game, Freeman has taken over the starting job. 

Baltimore also elevated defensive back Robert Jackson from the practice squad. The Ravens had 19 players on the injury report, including all five of the cornerbacks. The hope is that several of those players will be available for the crucial matchup. 

The End of Big Ben

There are several reports that this will be the final season for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

Roethlisberger is 39 years old and has battled injuries over the past couple of seasons. 

He has thrown for 2,522 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. 

Roethlisberger is 15-10 all-time against the Ravens. 

Will the Steelers galvanize behind their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback?

Playoff Implications

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The Ravens (8-3) currently sit atop the AFC North and own the top seed in the playoffs. However, the Bengals (7-4) are right on their heels so Baltimore needs to keep winning. 

A loss would drop the Steelers to 5-6-1 and hurt their playoff chances. This is an almost must-win game for Pittsburgh.  

Watt Will Be Active

Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt was activated from the reserve/COVID list on Saturday. Watt was initially placed on the reserve/COVID list on Monday and he did not practice the entire week.

Watt has 12.5 sacks and 41 tackles, including 13 for loss, over In nine games this season. He has established himself as a candidate for the AP Defensive Player of the Year award. Watt has also been hampered with hip and knee injuries.

Last season, Watt had 11 tackles, 3 sacks and 8 quarterback hits in two games against the Ravens. 

Steelers cornerback Joe Haden has been ruled out with a foot injury.

Ravens Need Faster Start

The Ravens have not scored a first-quarter touchdown since Oct. 17 against the Chargers.

Over 11 games season, Baltimore has just 30 points in the opening quarter and has been held scoreless five times.

However, the Ravens have won the time-of-possession battle in every game except the matchups against the Las Vegas Raiders and Detroit Lions.

"We’re not getting first downs," coach John Harbaugh said. "Sometimes we don’t get started [well], but this game, we got first downs, we moved the ball. The turnovers hurt us at times, but I think we just need to score more points with our yards and our first downs. So, we’ve had high numbers of first downs the last two [or] three weeks, without a high number of points. We kind of correlate yards and first downs to points, time of possession. The time of possession was way up. That was a big part of the game – keeping their offense off the field. It helped our defense tremendously.

"So, our offense contributed in a lot of really good ways, but the points are something that we need to do a better job of. We had opportunities down there that we had to settle for field goals a couple times [on].”